Essential TV

Essential TV


Combining pop culture nostalgia with the energy and imagination of Spielberg, Stranger Things has become a global phenomenon, launching the careers of Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp. But far more than just a nostalgia-fest for anyone over 40, it is an extremely clever reinvention of TV fantasy/horror that has re-imagined and redefined the genre. Now nearing its final bow, Stranger Things has yet to be replaced or bettered, leaving the door wide open for a similar show to take its crown.



My So-Called Life was axed before it could prove its worth – only finding a dedicated audience after the curtain fell. Yet it remains one of the best and most influential teenage TV dramas of the 20th Century. The sheer bravery and innovation at the heart of My So-Called Life would pave the way for modern dramas ranging from Skins to Euphoria as it tore up teenage stereotypes.


Based on the book series by George RR Martin, Game of Thrones transcends the boundaries of television by bringing us a cinematic slice of TV drama that defied the boundaries of the 16.9 flat screen box in every living room. Game of Thrones would become event viewing as it built a world of violence, intrigue and revenge unlike anything seen on TV before.

charlie brown and peanuts specials (ABC/PBS/Apple)

First published in 1950 in various American newspapers, Charles M. Schulz’s Charlie Brown and Peanuts have become one of the most famous comic strips of 20th Century pop culture. These exquisite slices of comic perfection glow with intelligence and humour while reflecting the joy and anxieties of childhood. Feature-length TV specials based on Schulz comic strips began in 1965, with over 48 specials produced.


Grange Hill didn’t just reinvent Children’s TV drama; it joyously tore up the rule book. Phil Redmond’s comprehensive school drama remains one of the finest slices of kid’s TV drama ever made, as it dares to challenge its young audience and discuss social issues parents avoid. Far from being dated, watching Grange Hill now is a revelation, demonstrating just how brave kid’s TV once was.

You may also like, Who Are You, Charlie Brown.

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